This travel adventure took place in Utah back in July when I was there on a business trip and the weather was a dry heat and very HOT! The landscape was that of a mixture of dry desert meets mountains of various shapes and sizes. There was still some snow on some peaks, the names of these goliaths escape my memory but it was a sight to behold at the time I was there. The populace consisted of very tall blonde and blued eyed men, Latinos and a smattering of Asians but they were mostly women. The city of Salt Lake City downtown core showcases turn of the century buildings, side by side modern skyscrapers but there were not a lot of tourists or people walking about, as you would think there would be. But a striking tourist attraction was the Temple, where all the streets of downtown converged at. The grand Church of the Latter Day Saints is an impressive monument to religion shrouded in mystery and secret rites. The temple dominated a good four blocks or so and it boasted an office building dedicated to the running of such huge orginization.
The surrounding area, namely called the Avenues, consisted of houses and apartments that are situated on a perfectly grid-like planning and is home to the younger and artsy populace of Salt Lake. Its close commute to downtown also makes it an ideal living area for young professionals and apparently is a strong foothold for the Democrats. The houses found in the Avenues are reminisce of houses found in Shaunessy (Vancouver, BC) or New Westminster, BC, old grand houses that are well maintained, colourful and have a strong aura of history.
The Hyatt Summerfield was the hotel my company had put me up in, is located in the city of Sandy, UT, which was south of Salt Lake City (SLC). I thought I was going to have to rely on taxis to get around but I found they have a local transit land rail, similar to our Skytrain system, called Uta-Trax. From what I can tell, it ran in a North to South direction, connecting Salt Lake City to other cities along its route. The waiting times for the trains were not too long and the cost was very inexpensive.
As far as their gay night life, I went out on Wednesday night, as I got off work early from a company function and I already had a few to drink and wanted to keep my buzz. After making a quick stop at the hotel to freshen up and change, I went to the Trapp and my first impression of the bar was the Duff or the Dufferin, only more rustic and less sleazy. The bar consisted of a main bar found at the entrance, about three or four tables and an entrance way that lead out to the back. After getting my drink, I decided to explore and see what else the bar had to offer and found that it had a pool table and a back bar, with an entrance way to an outdoor patio where patrons can go for a smoke. I decided to head back to the main bar, as that was where most of the main patrons where and decided to read up on their local scene found in one of their local gay papers.
While reading, I was approached by an elderly black gentleman by the name of Ivory and he made his intentions clear he found me attractive but kindly declined. He did end up staying and talking to me about the local scene in SLC. He touched topics of earlier times, when homosexuality was punishable crime and how back in the day, gay men and women had to find “special” places to meet. He talked about how Utah had changed from the pioneer thinking settlement to a more modern city and how it was finally changing for the better. Apparently, they had recently changed the local laws where bars/ pubs had to be a “private club” and only members were allowed but for a tourist, if you wanted to go to one of these bars, you could purchase a membership for a about $1 and enter the premises. That law no longer holds and various bars that I had walked by had plastered on their windows “No membership required – FINALLY”.
After finishing our beers, he offered to give me a ride to any of the other bars & being daring, I took him up on his offer. He drove me to a new bar called the Edge but it was dead and he did wait for me to come out before offering another ride to another bar called Club Tryangles which was close by.
Along the way, he had to go to the bathroom so bad, that he pulled over to an empty carwash lot and started to urinate near some bushes he parked by. He was somewhat weaving side to side but talking nonetheless, like it was something he did all the time. Having to go myself, I decided to hold on till I got to the next destination. Needless to say, it was a funny sight and he knew it but he wasn’t embarrassed.
He got back in the Cadillac (which apparently he had three of in 3 different colours), and proceeded to drop me off at my final destination. The car pulled up to a neighbourhood that you would not have thought it would have a local gay bar, as the area had family bungalows lining one side of the street but the bar was located on the corner of a major throughway street.
It looked promising, as it had an outside patio for smoking. I waved my ride goodbye and he said I can find him at the Trapp. I entered the small hallway, the cashier raised his eyebrows when he saw my ID, as I take it they don’t see many Vancouverites here. He was even more impressed that I didn’t look my age (haha…).
After paying the small cover and past the main entrance, you encounter a dance floor (which was empty), turn right and you found a pool table and the “U” shaped bar to your left. There was a local pool tournament happening by a few locals. During the course of my exploring of the place, I finally ended up talking to the bartender, as he gave me the history of the bar and info of when to go out (which like every other NA city I’ve been to, are Thurs/ Fri/ Sat nights). Overall it was a good night and I ended up taking a cab back to the hotel.
Fast Forward – Saturday Night:
During my last weekend in Utah, I decided to try Club Tryangles again as the start of my weekend and then head to apparently the only good dance bar, Babylon (which is a gay bar only on Saturday nights).
My beverage recommendation when you are at Club Tryangles is try their HUGE pints and I mean HUGE! The age group for the people in the bar is about late 20′s to early 40′s, its worth checking out before heading to any of the other gay bars. After my pint, I took a cab to Babylon. Cover was $5 and the music was pumping and can be heard from outside. The crowd was in full party mode and music is good, not as great as say Celebs on a Sat night (I thought the DJ that night needed to learn to mix, as he had a few spots of “dead air”). Prices for drinks was a tad steep ($5 US for a bottle of beer, whereas the pint at Club Tryangles was 3 times the size and I only paid $7 USD). The bar itself is huge, as it boasts 3 levels and an outside pool. They have their resident go-go boys, shooter waiter/ waitress and lots and lots of cute drunk young men, taking their shirts off due to the heat. As for the locals, they are really nice. Quite the variety, though I was the only Asian guy in sight. Freeman, a guy that I met at the bar decided to take me bar hopping. Tall, blonde, stocky and cute to boot, everything I expect (physically) from a guy from Utah
A must “to see/ do” excursion is to go outside of city areas. If you are into shopping, they have a great Outlet mall found in Park City, which has quite the selection of stores to choose from and while you are out that way, check out their Olympic Park tourist attraction, where they held the 2002 Winter Olympics. You can watch local athletes practice and some of them are quite the eye candy. And if you pay attention to some of the license plates, you will see a rock structure pictured on them and we decided to pay a visit to these monuments. To reach these monuments and areas of interest, you will have to drive to the southern part of Utah. It takes about 3-4 hours but along the way, you can make quick stops to small towns and if the car is built for it, go off-roading and visit some ghost towns.
Olympic Park Hottie
On our way down to the Arches, we stopped at a small town of Helper and it looked like it had seen better days. We had parked the Hummer in the downtown district that was about 3 blocks long. It was fast approaching noon & we decided to look for a place to eat and came across a really old fashion diner. The diner showcased pictures of the town during its more bustling days, antiques and even sold local artists works that were on display in various corners and walls of the establishment.
After lunch, we continued on to our first destination of Canyonlands National Park and when we finally reached an area called Gradview Point Overlook, we were met with the most awe inspiring view of the canyon. If you’ve been the Grand Canyon, this place was close 2nd, I would say. As the red coloured rock formations dotted the horizon, with the sparse vegetation clinging to cliffs and ledges, you are reminded of how big our planet is. We didn’t get to fully explore the park but there is A LOT to see and explore in this park but after an hour, we headed back to our final destination of Delicate Arches National Park. We managed to get to the Arches during sunset and take a few pictures and along the way also got to see Balanced Rock and Mules Ears/ Courthouse Towers before it became too dark to see.
Our last destination before heading back to Salt Lake City was Moab and we ended up filling up and eating supper in a town that has a lot of truck traffic. We didn’t get to see much of the town, as it was late but the locals where quite friendly.
Well, Utah has proven to me that there is a lot more to this middle American State aside from the misconception of it being a Mormon repressive society. On the contrary, I found the people to be super friendly, courteous, accepting and quite outgoing!
There are so many hidden gems and awe inspiring places that it literally takes your breathe away (which i can’t say enough). If ever you want to take a road trip to Las Vegas, NV, go through Utah and spend at least a day there before continuing on, as it a beautiful State to behold and you won’t be disappointed!
Submitted by: Ronn
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